When I see the same theme coming from two different sources, I think there’s a trend (tho maybe it just means I wasn’t paying attention). And so we heard Meredith Whitney a few days back describing the developing divide of local and state governments, between those that are solvent (and can attract mobile, affluent residents and investors) and those spiralling down the debt hole. Now Al Lewis looks at it from the retail side– nobody wants to invest where the mundanes live, but as areas like Silicon Valley and Washington continue to prosper retail facilities are renewed and enlarged.
In a democracy of educated, thinking citizens, any state finding itself on the wrong side of this divide could reverse its decline simply by removing all taxes on wages, capital, purchases, and transactions in general, substituting a very heavy tax on land value (which ideally would include the value of mortgages on land, to be paid by the mortgage lender rather than the borrower). Unfortunately, the “investors” who control much of the land in declining areas have the resources to fool the electorate, or can work directly with elected officials to prevent effective reform.